Explanation concerning the “Internet Information Service Management Rules (Opinion-Seeking Version of Revision Draft)
The government on Thursday began to solicit public opinion on proposed changes to a 12-year-old law on the management of Internet service in China.
The Measures on the Administration of Internet Information Services, enacted in 2000, have become outdated in many aspects due to the rapid development of the Internet and the emergence of new technology and applications, said a joint statement issued by the State Internet Information Office and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
The draft amendment to the law aims to improve the administration and orderly development of Internet information services, as well as to maintain national security, and the legitimate rights and interests of the public and Internet information service providers, according to the statement.
The draft encourages service providers to launch self discipline activities and the public to supervise Internet information services.
If the draft becomes law, an Internet supervision system will be established mainly comprising Internet information content administrative authorities, telecommunication authorities and police authorities.
The draft also clarifies the licensing procedure for online forums and microblog sites, and standardizes the entry criteria for websites and the management responsibilities of service providers.
More rules will be laid down for the real-name registration of users if it passed. (China solicits public opinions on Internet administration, Xinhua, June 7, 2012)
By adding to the administrative burden of setting up and running Internet enterprises, the regime might endeavour to keep the number of players low. It is much easier controlling a small number of large visible enterprises than having to deal with large numbers of smaller companies. Hence, by making market access procedures more difficult, the administration puts up the pressure on social media enterprises to keep their side of the deal: permission to operate in return for toeing the political line. (Roger Creemers, New Draft Internet Regulations: the Empire Strikes Back?, supra).
The law represents the latest in a series of actions taken by the Chinese government and microblog services to regulate user behavior on microblogs, which have increasingly become platforms for government criticism in China’s tightly-controlled media environment. According to the state’s Xinhua news agency, the draft law is an attempt to “improve the administration and orderly development of Internet information services, as well as to maintain national security, and the legitimate rights and interests of the public and Internet information service providers.”This new set of government regulations comes after China’s largest microblogging service Sina Weibo instituted a number of new rules on its users, an effort likely stemming from the company’s desire to appease the government. Last month, we noted in this blog post that Sina Weibo, which boasts more than 300 million users, released a new user contract in which users had to agree not to post content deemed “untrue,” threatening to the “honor of the nation,” promoting “evil teachings, or anything that “destroys societal stability.” That contract went into effect last week after a three-week trial phase. Our colleagues at the Herdict blog note the introduction of a “user credit” points system for Weibo users, which will subtract points for bad behavior such as “spreading falsehoods.”(Malavika Jagannathan, Proposed Changes in China’s Internet Law Target Microblogging Services, Open Net Initiative, June 7, 2012)